Government of Guyana Hosts Ministerial Knowledge Exchange to Address Gender-Based Violence
Caribbean Ministers and Development Agencies Partners at the Guyana Ministerial Forum on Empowerment and Gender Equality. Photo compliments: United Nations Guyana.
Georgetown, Guyana, 1 November, 2023: In a landmark event, the Government of Guyana, with support from the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, hosted a three-day Ministerial Forum on Empowerment and Gender Equality - under the theme “Shared experiences towards developing robust national and regional models for the 2030 Agenda”.
Government of Guyana and other Caribbean ministers, United Nations officials and key stakeholders met to share insights, experiences, and strategies, all aimed at integrating gender equality into national policy development and legislation.
The EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, a partnership between the United Nations and the European Union, is a global movement designed to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls (VAWG). UN Women is among several United Nations agencies implementing the programme across the region in partnership with Governments and civil society under the theme of ending family violence.
The Ministerial Forum underscored the commitment to a coordinated approach to address GBV. Member states also discussed the strengths and weaknesses of existing policies and legislation related to GBV, highlighting the need for revisions and improvements.
Honourable Dr. Vindhya Persaud- Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Guyana presenting on Day 1 of the Ministerial Forum. UN Women Photo/Trevor Smith
Honourable Dr. Vindhya Persaud, Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Guyana highlighted Guyana’s policy and legislative direction: “In terms of policy, Guyana is now working on a gender inclusion policy that will guide us from five to ten years. That is something that we take into account, all the modern things that are happening and all the areas that were not included before, to be included going forward. Secondly, we are looking at legislation - legislation that is beyond and broader than what exists. Our domestic violence legislation will be replaced by family violence legislation and the definition of that violence is a broader definition, which provides more coverage for people, which includes from familial relationships and looks at discretionary powers of the Judiciary, as well as police so that response will not only be swift, but response is mandated and not left ‘at the discretion of’.”
Ms. Je’nille Maraj, UN Women Planning and Coordination Specialist (at left) speaking on the Gender Responsive Budgeting panel. Pictured right is the Honourable Ayanna Webster-Roy, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister – Gender and Child Affairs, Trinidad and Tobago. UN Women Photo/ Trevor Smith.
Participants emphasised the importance of collecting and analysing GBV data to design strategies to promote public awareness, challenge stereotypes, and educate communities in a comprehensive approach to addressing GBV.
Ms. Je’nille Maraj, Planning and Coordination Specialist at the UN Women Caribbean Multi-Country Office said the direct costs of VAWG include GBV services’ provision costs incurred by the health, police, justice and social welfare sectors as well as the cost of victim support services. She said too services provided through the referral pathway, including shelters, legal aid and counselling, are some of the associated costs.
Ms. Maraj said: “Understanding these types of costs enable governments to effectively design legislation and policies. It is data-driven so we understand where we need impact, which sectors are costing us the most, and where we also need to practice and implement gender-responsive budgeting. It also allows us to improve our quality essential services delivery and to support survivors and the entire network that depends on women.”
UN Women plays a crucial role in providing data on GBV that is essential for policy makers to develop informed policies and legislation. For instance, UN Women’s Caribbean Women Count: Ending Violence against Women and Girls Data Hub is a central repository of qualitative and quantitative data on the prevalence of the different forms of intimate partner violence (IPV) and non-partner sexual violence from five countries (Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago) and barriers to accessing services in CARICOM.
Mr. Jamie Saunders, Acting Director of the Directorate of Gender Affairs - Antigua and Barbuda, said: “My office worked on a workplace harassment and discrimination policy as well as a strategic gender-based violence action plan, with support from the Canada-CARICOM Expert Deployment Mechanism [sic] signalling our national commitment to that. The strategic gender-based violence action plan is to ensure that we have that overarching policy framework to really ensure we can have a clear understanding of what every stakeholders’ role is and what is required for us to truly eradicate and decrease instances of gender-based violence.”
The meeting also included representation from United Nations agencies, European Union and InterAmerican Development Bank officials, CARICOM Ministers from Belize, Grenada, Haiti, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago. Heads of National Gender Machinery from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and Suriname were also present.
Members of the panel who addressed the topic: Gender Responsive Budgeting. L-R Sonja Roopnauth- Director of Budgets, Ministry of Finance, Guyana; Lorena Solórzano Salazar- Head of Inter-American Development Bank in Guyana; Honourable Ayanna Webster-Roy- Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Gender and Child Affairs, Trinidad and Tobago; Honourable Dr. Vindhya Persaud- Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Guyana; and Je’nille Maraj- Planning and Coordination Specialist, UN Women MCO-Caribbean. UN Women Photo/Trevor Smith.